ACLU Urges Funds, Not Fanfare, for Clinton Public Health Approach to Drug War

February 8, 1999 12:00 am

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Monday, February 8, 1999

WASHINGTON — The White House drug control plan, unveiled today by Vice President Gore, was greeted with skepticism by the American Civil Liberties Union and a new National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies, which is made up of public health, civil rights, civil liberties and drug reform organizations.

Although the ACLU welcomed news reports indicating that the White House wants to expand treatment as alternatives to jail for drug users, it cautioned that the Administration’s budget numbers do not fully support such an approach.

“The White House keeps talking about the importance of education and treatment, but year after year, its budget has instead emphasized law enforcement efforts,” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, and co-chair of the new coalition.

“With two-thirds of the drug control budget devoted to law enforcement, it is time for President Clinton to put his money where his mouth is, and fully fund sound public health solutions that do not violate civil liberties,” King added.

The nation’s “war on drugs” law enforcement methods, King said, have traditionally targeted small-time drug offenders who are easier to catch and convict rather than high-level dealers, who have largely escaped scrutiny. In addition, she said, the nation has witnessed wholesale violations of civil liberties by laws that allow police and federal agencies to seize private property without demonstrating that it is related to a crime.

King said the new National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies is urging an emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and family unity. The coalition will soon be releasing its own “Effective Drug Control Strategy,” she said, as an alternative to the White House policy recommendations.

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